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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI535 2009-03-20 13:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0535/01 0791345
O 201345Z MAR 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000535 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2019 
1.  (C)  Summary.  In a wide-ranging discussion, President 
Saakashvili and EUR DAS Matt Bryza discussed regional 
developments, U.S. assistance for Georgia and next steps on 
the Geneva process.  The President shared his views on 
opposition politicians and the planned April 9 protests. 
President Saakashvili urged the United States to express 
unambiguous support for Georgia and to send senior visitors 
quickly.  DAS Bryza promised to coordinate closely on 
regional issues and to consider carefully Georgia's requests 
on the remainder of the 1 billion USD pledge to Georgia. The 
two also discussed the importance of returning Armenian 
church properties in Georgia to the Church of Armenia. End 
Regional Review 
2.  (C) The President said that Georgia needed internal 
stability and the unambiguous support of the United States. 
He encouraged DAS Bryza to encourage other senior U.S. 
officials to visit Georgia and to make public statements of 
support.  He hoped the Vice President might visit soon. 
Specifically on regional issues, Saakashvili asked DAS Bryza 
whether the Turks had expressed concerns about U.S. access to 
Trabzon.  Saakashvili believed that a reduction in U.S. 
forces in Iraq would create a new opportunity for 
U.S.-Turkish relations.  DAS Bryza told  Saakashvili that 
during his recent trip to Turkey, MFA Under Secretary Apakan 
asked Bryza to inquire whether Georgia might agree to a 
civilian shipping link between Trabzon and Sukhumi as a way 
to reinforce support for Georgia's territorial integrity by 
allowing members of Turkey's Abkhaz Diaspora to enter 
Abkhazia directly from Turkey rather than via Russia. 
President Saakashvili said he was not interested in this 
option, as it would gain nothing for Georgia while providing 
gains for Abkhazia.  That said, Saakashvili did express 
interest in increasing business and people-to-people ties 
between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.  Bryza added that 
in Turkey, he had been asked about issues related to a 
potential Armenia genocide resolution in the U.S. Congress 
and how such a resolution would affect the emerging 
relationship between Ankara and Yerevan, and that the highest 
levels of the Administration were exploring ways to 
jump-start the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.  Saakashvili 
asked whether Bryza thought the Nabucco project could work if 
Iranian gas was included, to which Bryza replied that Iranian 
gas was not needed, especially as Iran did not have enough 
gas to supply internal markets in  Tehran and Tabriz.  DAS 
Bryza and Saakashvili agreed that the White Stream project 
and/or Black Sea liquid natural gas (from Georgia to Romania) 
could potentially be used to help motivate the Turkish side 
to move more quickly on Nabucco. 
U.S. Assistance 
3.  (C) President Saakashvili told Bryza that his main focus 
was Georgia's economy and asked about the remainder of the 1 
billion USD assistance package.  He said that U.S. assistance 
was important for survivability, not just sustainability. 
Saakashvili said that it was critical to spend money in 
Georgia -- he believed a crisis could be looming as early as 
fall 2009 when the government might possibly be unable to pay 
salaries.  DAS Bryza told Saakashvili that he believed 
Washington could not support further direct budget support, 
but that he hoped the President agreed with current proposals 
for funding including a road project and IDP housing. 
Qfor funding including a road project and IDP housing. 
Saakashvili inquired whether the funding would come through 
USAID and Bryza responded that some of it would.  Bryza also 
said the United States would consider a proposal from the 
Prime Minister to solicit European allies on possibly 
providing a $250 million line of credit to sustain confidence 
in Georgia's banking system, which had weathered the August 
war and the global financial crisis, but was under stress. 
Bryza pledged to follow up with the "New Friends of Georgia" 
foreign ministers the next evening in Brussels. 
Next Steps on Conflicts 
4.  (C) DAS Bryza told the President he saw two immediate 
issues as next steps: first, it appeared Russia would not 
allow renewal of the OSCE mandate in Georgia according to any 
"status-neutral" proposal, and that if this indeed were to be 
the case, Russia's obstructionism should be seen as 
responsible for the breakdown.  Georgia would then garner 
greater diplomatic capital, which would be useful in 
negotiating a new mandate for UNOMIG.  Second, for UNOMIG, it 
was critical that the  next mandate maintain a single mission 
for all of Georgia (rather than one mission in Abkhazia and a 
TBILISI 00000535  002 OF 002 
second mission in the rest of Georgia).  Bryza told 
Saakashvili there needed to be another meeting of the Geneva 
Process in coming weeks to provide time to negotiate the UNSC 
resolution renewing the UNOMIG mandate long before its 
piration on June 15.  DAS Bryza's view was that Georgian 
Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria had built up a store of 
credibility and goodwill with his flexibility and 
constructiveness during recent Geneva talks.  According to 
Bryza, the Europeans were privately furious with Russian and 
separatist obstructionism in Geneva.  If the Russians would 
not be willing to meet formally before UNOMIG renewal, we 
should consider some other format which could expose the fact 
that Russia's true intention was not to facilitate discussion 
and improve security on the ground, but rather to continue to 
create divisions and destabilize Georgia. 
The Opposition 
5.  (C) President Saakashvili said that Irakli Alasania was 
not doing well in the polls.  According to the President, 
Alasania has been saying that he recently met with Secretary 
Clinton and EU Representative Solana (note: Post is unaware 
of any meeting with the Secretary. End note).  Saakashvili 
urged Bryza to use his meetings with opposition leaders 
(septel) to discourage violence.  He told the DAS that the 
Russians want to see violence on the streets of Tbilisi, 
which was why they were supporting former Speaker of 
Parliament Nino Burjanadze (reftel A).  The President said 
that Burjanadze had a "zero percent chance" of winning at the 
polls and was therefore trying to take her case to the 
6.  (C) Saakashvili described leader of the Christian 
Democrats (CDM) Giorgi Targamadze as smart because he was 
occupying an empty space in Georgian politics -- between the 
government and the radicals.  He said that Targamadze was 
focused on 2010 municipal elections, which will in turn 
provide a platform for future elections.  The president said 
that most of the non-parliamentary politicians believed that 
the municipal elections were below them -- he speculated that 
Alasania would not waste his time on such an insignificant 
first step -- everyone wanted to launch straight to the 
presidency.  He believed for Alasania to have success he 
would need to move towards this more moderate space. 
Saakashvili said that Alasania had jumped into the opposition 
prematurely and that his alliance with David Gamkrelidze and 
David Usupashvili, old opposition faces, had diminished his 
stature.  He warned that rhetoric regarding April 9, 
particularly from Burjanadze, was already starting to take an 
aggressive tone.  She had reportedly called for demonstrators 
to take control of government buildings.  Bryza pledged to 
continue working with Alasania to maintain his focus on 
Georgia's need for patience and unity, and to prepare himself 
for a run at the presidency in due course. 
7.  (C)  Bryza reminded President Saakashvili of the 
importance the U.S. places on the return of Armenian church 
properties to the Church of Armenia.  Bryza noted he had 
discussed this matter earlier in the day with Georgian 
Patriarch Ilya, and that the process needed a nudge. 
President Saakashvili readily agreed on the need to keep 
working this issue. 


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